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Estate of Stoutenberg v. United Anesthesia & Pain Control, P.C.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

ESTATE OF BRANDY NICOLE STOUTENBERG, by its Administrator, JESSICA STOUTENBERG, EMINA MARIE BRKOVIC, by Estate of Brandy Stoutenberg, by its Administrator Jessica Stoutenberg, and DEANNA MARIE MCGILLAN, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
UNITED ANESTHESIA & PAIN CONTROL, P.C., IOWAHEALTH-DES MOINES; CENTRAL IOWA HOSPITAL CORPORATION;IOWA HEALTH PHYSICIANS; IOWA HEALTH PHYSICIANS AND CLINICS;IOWA HEALTH SYSTEM; CENTRAL IOWA HEALTH SYSTEM; and IOWA HEALTH SYSTEM HOSPITAL CORPORATION, Defendants-Appellees.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Douglas F. Staskal, Judge.

         Plaintiff appeals the district court's denial of its second motion to amend and the denial of a motion to continue summary judgment. AFFIRMED.

          Marc S. Harding of Harding Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Loree A. Nelson, Barry G. Vermeer, and Annmarie M. Kelly of Gislason & Hunter, L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         The estate of Brandy Stoutenberg, and others, appeal the district court's denial of a continuance and motion to amend. We find the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to amend and in refusing to grant a continuance. We affirm the district court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Stoutenberg died September 11, 2010, at the age of twenty four, due to mixed-drug intoxication. The plaintiffs initiated a wrongful death lawsuit on August 29, 2012. The suit alleged Dr. Daniel J. Baldi, D.O., prescribed a lethal combination of pain medication. The petition also alleges Dr. Baldi was acting as an agent of United Anesthesia & Pain Control, P.C. (United), and therefore, United was liable for damages under the doctrine of repondeat superior. The petition listed several other corporations as defendants, including Iowa Health Physicians (Iowa Physician), but did not specifically allege vicarious liability claims against them.

         The case was stayed due to criminal charges relating to Dr. Baldi's care of Stoutenberg. After Dr. Baldi was acquitted, an order was entered on March 16, 2015, setting the wrongful death trial for October 24, 2016. Discovery began, and on April 11 the plaintiff's expert, Gordon A. Beardwood, M.D., was deposed. During the deposition, Dr. Beardwood opined Dr. Baldi's prescriptions had not caused Stoutenberg's death. Dr. Beardwood believed the drugs Effexor, Adderall, and Xanax caused Stoutenberg's death. The drugs had not been prescribed by Dr. Baldi but by Shehzad Kamran, M.D., a psychiatrist working for Iowa Physician.

         On June 2, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs then moved, on June 22, to amend their petition to substitute a vicarious liability claim for the actions of Dr. Kamran in place of the actions of Dr. Baldi. The plaintiffs did not seek to amend the petition to include Dr. Kamran as a defendant. The plaintiffs also requested a continuance in order to conduct further discovery. On September 9, the district court denied the plaintiffs' motion to amend and granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The plaintiffs appeal.

         II. Standard of Review

         Leave to amend pleadings should be given freely when justice so requires. Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.402(4). When reviewing the denial of a motion for leave to amend, we examine the decision of the district court for an abuse of discretion. See Porter v. Good Eavespouting, 505 N.W.2d 178, 180 (Iowa 1993). Similarly, a district court's ruling on a motion to continue summary judgment to allow for additional discovery is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Kulish v. Ellsworth, 566 N.W.2d 885, 889 (Iowa 1997)

         III. ...


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